With a suppressed immune system, pregnant women are more susceptible to a bad head, common cold, the flu or the seasonal allergy attack with greater frequency during the pregnant months. Despite the misery, avoid medications like aspirin, do not megadose on vitamin C and most herbs without consulting your careprovider first.
Interestingly, colds and flu during pregnancy will not hurt your baby, unless your temperature shoots up to 102˚F and above. The worse can happen if you fall really ill in the first trimester. In the later stages if you become dehydrated the risk of premature labor increases. Pregnancy is surely the worst time to feel so miserable but what makes it even harder is the fact that you cannot be taking over-the-counter medications as you use to before. Here is why:
- Many cold medicines, antihistamines, decongestants and nasal sprays contain some ingredient which makes them unsuitable for use during pregnancy. Some cold medications may also contain alcohol and it is well established that alcohol is bad for the growing fetus.
- Cold medications can also contain aspirin, which is again a no-no for your baby especially in the last trimester when, premature labor is possible
- Thirdly nasal sprays can also work adversely because it may contain a compound which eases the nasal problem only to tighten the arteries near the uterus. Your baby is at a risk of receiving a reduced flow of oxygen and blood.
Going the Natural Way
- Before you reach for the medicine kit, try a few other remedies first. A neck massage and a nap can cure you of that headache for instance.
- For cold and allergy symptoms try going the natural way. Treat the cold as soon as you feel it; drink lots of water to expel the germs. Always consult your doctor on what is safe, even if it's the minor (but bothersome) bout of sniffle and sneezes before you reach for any form of antihistamines.
- For a sore itchy throat, gargle with salt water (hot water) instead of the cough syrup.
- If your temperature is above 101˚F, you can take a dose of acetaminophen to bring the fever down and arrange to visit your doctor. Tylenol is considered safe to take when you have a flu attack but stay away from all other stuffs sold specially for flu symptoms.
- Do not take herbs such as Echinacea as studies on its use during pregnancy is not conclusive.
- Avoid herbal teas containing weird unfamiliar names like mugwort or cohosh. Check with your careprovider first.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids in the form of warm water, chicken broth and calcium-fortified juices.
- Elevate the upper portion of your body, including your head to help with the congestion. Use pillows to prop yourself up to help drain the mucus.
- Try using a humidifier or place a cloth soaked in hot water over your face. Spray drug-free nasal drops to keep the area moist
- Check with your doctor on the OTCs you can take. There are a number of them which are safe for consumption during pregnancy. Go with your doctor's recommendation and avoid self-medication.
- Excess vitamin C or zinc beyond what is already in your prenatal formula is not advisable during pregnancy. Get medical advice first if you wish to increase the dose.
- Finally give yourself time, get plenty of rest and eat well since your body needs all the energy to get back on track.
Change your Habit
- Feeling achy and feverish may tempt you to self-medicate just to get rid of the misery but it is a bad idea to load up on OTC medications. Popping a pill, drinking some syrup or using a nasal spray to bring relief to common ailments will not do now that you are pregnant.
- Aspirin and ibuprofen are especially harmful and should be avoided totally. Researchers show that pregnant women should opt for acetaminophen over aspirin but that too should be taken in moderation (and certainly not every day). Tylenol or paracetemol (acetaminophen family) taken occasionally to treat a bad attack is doable but do not make it a habit and avoid its use whenever possible.